Sunday, 29 March 2015

Nigeria’s Oil-Rich State Hit by Protests as APC Rejects Vote

Nigeria’s main opposition All Progressives Congress called for elections in the southern oil-producing Rivers state to be annulled and re-run, alleging that Saturday’s ballot had been rigged, prompting protest marches. 
Electoral officials failed to release the election results and colluded with the ruling People’s Democratic Party to distort the outcome, Ibim Semenitari, a spokeswoman for Rivers state Governor Rotimi Amaechi, said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday. Violence was also used to deter people from voting, with APC supporters and officials arrested, she said. 

Thousands of APC supporters marched peacefully through the streets of Port Harcourt, the state capital, to the local office of the electoral commission on Aba road. Many bore signs calling for the removal of the regional election commissioner, while police in riot gear and armored personnel carriers watched over the march without interfering.
“In substance, there was no election in Rivers state,” Semenitari said. The APC calls for the “outright cancellation and rescheduling” of the vote.
The election, which was delayed by six weeks, is the most closely contested since military rule ended in 1999 in Africa’s most populous nation. President Goodluck Jonathan, 57, and his PDP are facing a united opposition led by former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, a 72-year-old northern Muslim who’s lost three previous elections. Amaechi defected from the PDP to the APC in 2013.

Vote Interference
Rivers police spokesman, Ahmad Muhammad, declined to comment, and said the state’s police commissioner will respond to the allegations. 
There were also reports of security agencies failing to prevent “havoc” at some polling stations, it said. These developments raise concern that the collation of results may be compromised if appropriate actions are not taken to safeguard the credibility of the exercise,” according to the statement.

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